The Reigning Stars Of Street Style: Kanika Karvinkop
It wouldn’t be wrong to assume that a stylist has to be well-turned-out at all times — it’s quite possibly part of the job description. Kanika Karvinkop ensures that she does justice to her responsibility as founder of No Borders Shop, a vintage store that celebrates diversity, fashion, culture and art through the brands it retails. Shuttling between Mumbai and New York every six months, the 30-year-old’s own style borders on eclecticism and is influenced by the inspiration she gleans from colours, textiles, shapes, patterns and people. When she’s not playing dress-up or curating selections for her store, you will find her leafing through old photographs of India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, marvelling at how people dressed up in the ’50s and ’60s.
Tell us a little about No Borders Shop…
“I’d been a stylist for seven years when I started No Borders Shop, an organisation that revolves around diversity, fashion, culture and art. We focus on bringing in designers from around the world and creating a space for artists, musicians and other inventive souls to come and be creative. We pay careful attention to whom they work with, what inspires them, the music they make and what background they come from among other things. For example, we have art by Ayqa Khan who was bullied as a child for having body hair. We launched a new store in Bombay in April; so that’s what’s taking up a huge chunk of my time right now. I spend around six months in New York and the rest of the year in Bombay — it’s all the same to me anyway.”
Describe your personal style…
“My own style is very eclectic. I’m influenced by the things I see and experience when I travel and I’m inspired by different cultures, colours, people — even textiles, shapes and patterns. It’s a mix of many things. I’m especially interested in South Asia. Even though my shop and fabric are multicultural, there’s a huge influence from South Asia. As a kid, my dad was in the Air Force, so we moved around a lot and I’ve seen a treasure trove of cultures in India as well. Our nation is so different across regions. Every state has different colours, textiles and cultures, and that inspired me to start No Borders. From Pero to Eka, India has all these designers who use old techniques and textiles that have been in the country for decades but also make contemporary clothes, which anyone can wear, and that’s what I like. I’m very obsessed with vintage clothes; I mix vintage with designer and it’s something that I absolutely love doing.
When I am in New York, I only shop vintage, because you get so much of it there. When I come back to Bombay, there aren’t so many options. You can either buy an extremely expensive designer outfit or you have to go to Zara. There’s nothing that you can buy and treasure forever, knowing that it’ll mean something. I can give you a vintage print Christian Dior for INR 8,500, which you can keep for life. That sort of a special binge is fine, unlike an INR 6,000 splurge at Zara that’ll get ruined in two months. I want the vintage culture in India to become like other countries, where it’s cool to thrift shop and help the environment.”
Who are your style inspirations?
“I’ve never really looked up to a celebrity or a pop star in terms of fashion or style. I like to experiment with what I own. I prefer it to come from my own brain; even with my work, I never look at reference images or ideas from other shoots. It all comes from me, otherwise, you tend to get influenced. When you think of it by yourself, there’s so much more. I did this course called Master’s in Creativity and Innovation by Edward Rimono — that’s where I imbibed this philosophy and it has really helped me. You have to think outside the box. You know how it is nowadays; everybody is doing everything. If you don’t look at references or things that have already been done, you force your brain to come up with something new.”
A fashion staple that enhances your outfit…
“A denim jacket, maybe vintage. I have one, which I wear all the time.”
What is your signature style?
“My Highway 6 jeans with a simple t-shirt and a long-ish jacket.”
How often do you step out of your comfort zone in fashion?
“For me, it’s all about mixing and matching. Even if I’m dressed in traditional attire, I’d never wear an Indian outfit from head to toe; instead, I’d show up in trousers with a blouse and a long jacket. Recently, at a friend’s wedding, I wore an Anamika Khanna outfit, which you could wear to a Christian or an Indian wedding. It had high-waisted pants, a cropped blouse, which I made shorter, and a beautiful long jacket. I’m attracted to things like that because as a person, I’m very experimental with my style. I don’t stick to what’s normal. If you give me a skirt, I’ll cut it up and tinker around with it, not wear it as it is.”
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